A thyroidectomy is the partial or complete removal of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is the butterfly-shaped gland that lays in the neck on top of the throat. The thyroid has two lobes, one that lies on each side of the throat, connected by a narrow band called an isthmus. Thyroidectomies may consist of removing one or both lobes and/or the isthmus. A partial or complete thyroidectomy may be used to treat thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer, or hyperthyroidism.

A parathyroidectomy is the surgical removal of one or all of the parathyroid glands. The parathyroid sits right behind the thyroid and is made up of four rice grain-sized glands. One or all of the parathyroid glands may be removed to treat hyperparathyroidism or a parathyroid tumor.

For either a pediatric thyroidectomy and/or a parathyroidectomy, the procedure is performed under general anesthesia by a pediatric surgeon who is skilled in the procedure. A small incision is made in the neck to expose the glands. Once the removal of diseased tissue is complete, the surgical wound is closed. Many patients will spend two to three days in the hospital to monitor thyroid and parathyroid hormone levels.

What Do the Thyroid and Parathyroid Do?

If your child has been diagnosed with a disease of the thyroid or parathyroid, including cancer, you may be wondering what the impact or implications may be. Let us help you better understand the function and purpose of these tiny, but very important, glands.

The thyroid gland is the gland that is responsible for metabolism and regulating many of the body’s vital functions including breathing, heart rate, central and peripheral nervous system function, body weight and temperature, muscle strength, cholesterol levels, and menstruation. Although it is rare, thyroid cancer is the third most common non-blood cancer in children. As you may infer from the systems that the thyroid gland effects, cancer or disease of the thyroid gland can cause issues with the growth and development of children.

The parathyroid is responsible for maintaining blood calcium levels in the blood. Calcium plays a critical role in heart function, nervous system support, kidney function, and bone strength. Hyperparathyroidism and parathyroid cancer are rare in children, but if left untreated, it can cause osteoporosis, kidney stones or disease, muscle weakness, and cardiac issues. Removing the one or multiple parathyroid glands can help improve your child’s condition and eliminate cancer.

For thyroid or parathyroid cancer treatment for your child, contact our partners, Alaska Pediatric Oncology.

Alaska Pediatric Surgery
Alaska Pediatric Oncology

How Alaska Pediatric Surgery Can Help

At Alaska Pediatric Surgery, we partner with the oncologists at Alaska Pediatric Oncology to provide the children of Alaska the best chances for positive outcomes in the face of cancer and other childhood diseases that require surgical intervention. If your child requires a thyroidectomy or a parathyroidectomy, contact us to schedule your consultation.